Eisai and Biogen announced that their Lecanemab drug showed significant benefits for people with an early stage of Alzheimer's disease. Like other drugs being developed, it is primarily designed to remove amyloid sediment, but the clinical test of phase 3 shows that it can also slow down cognitive decline.
The test, known as CLARITY AD, involved almost 1,800 people with a mild form of Alzheimer's disease or light cognitive impairments as a result of the disease, who received fortnightly I.V. intel from lecanemaba or placebo, which measures certain cognitive abilities, such as memory, orientation, judgment and problem solving.
After 18 months of treatment, people taking lecanemab had a 27% decrease in cognitive function compared to those taking placebo; the drug also reduced amyloid sediment. The effect was noticed after six months of treatment. ", said Guardian Dr. Susan Kolhaas, director of research at Alzheimer's Research UK.
Significant side effects
However, lecanemab is not an ideal drug: about 21 per cent of patients have experienced known side effects associated with anti-amyloid antibodies, including "Amyloid Related Imaging Abnormalities".
Although the positive effects are rather modest, and the side effects are significant, the drug gives hope that the disease is not fatal and that it can be affected by early intervention. This clinical test also shows that amyloid bleaches are indeed responsible for brain damage and reduced cognitive ability. Previous candidates for drugs that reduce the level of amyloid-beta protein have not improved the clinical outcome, which calls into question the role of amyloid-beta in progressing the disease.
Eisai and Biogen are expected to be approved by the U.S. regulatory authorities and apply for a permit to sell in Japan and Europe until March 31, 2023, but the result is not guaranteed because the observed clinical improvements are just below the standard.
The progress of Alzheimer's is estimated on a 14-point scale, with a deterioration of the patient's condition estimated at about one point a year." "Rob Howard, professor of senior psychiatry at the University College of London, explains.
Treatment is possible even before symptoms occur.
Eisai is working on a version of lecanemaba, which can be administered by subcutaneous injection rather than I.V. infusion, which can reduce side effects and be more acceptable to patients, but both companies believe that their drug can slow down cognitive decline at an even earlier stage, before the disease develops. To explore this possibility, Eisai is recruiting volunteers with a high risk of Alzheimer's disease, but who do not yet have any symptoms.
The prospect of effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease
Despite such a high demand, it seems that if lecanemab were available, many medical services would unfortunately not be ready to use it: according to Alzheimer's Research UK, only one of the three psychiatric wards would be ready to provide a new treatment during the year, and in Britain many patients are diagnosed at a much later stage than those who participated in the last trial, so experts call for "radical changes" in the diagnosis and management of patients.
In addition to lecanemaba, there are now over 140 experimental drugs in clinical trials, the vast majority of which are directed at other processes involved in the development of dementia, reports Alzheimer's Research UK, which opens the door to even more effective combination therapy.